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David Fincher says Sacha Baron Cohen make-up tests for Freddie Mercury were 'spectacular'

Ben Arnold
·Contributor
·2-min read
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 22: Sacha Baron Cohen attends the 71st Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
Sacha Baron Cohen (Credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

David Fincher has said he was bowled over after seeing the make-up tests that Sacha Baron Cohen undertook when he was set to play Freddie Mercury.

Long before Rami Malek took on the role for Bohemian Rhapsody, the Borat star was all set to play the Queen frontman.

Speaking to fellow director and writer Aaron Sorkin on The Director's Cut podcast, Fincher said: “Dude, you have to see…these photos are spectacular.”

Read more: Cohen reveals Borat stunt escape footage

Cohen ended up walking away from his planned Queen movie project, over what were described as 'creative differences' with the other members of the band.

Freddie Mercury, lead singer of Queen, performing at Slane Castle, 05/07/1986 (Part of the Irish Independent Newspapers/NLI Collection). (Photo by Independent News and Media/Getty Images)
Freddie Mercury and Bryan May (Credit: Independent News and Media/Getty Images)

He was said to have been keen to make a more gritty movie about the rock legend, who died from complications due to AIDS in 1991, aged 45.

Cohen later claimed in an interview with Howard Stern that the band had wanted to continue the story after Mercury had died.

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“A member of the band – I won’t say who – said: ‘You know, this is such a great movie because it’s got such an amazing thing that happens in the middle',” he said.

“And I go: ‘What happens in the middle of the movie?’ He goes: ‘You know, Freddie dies.’ ... I go: ‘What happens in the second half of the movie?’ He goes: ‘We see how the band carries on from strength to strength.’

Malek as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody (Credit: 20th Century Fox)
Malek as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody (Credit: 20th Century Fox)

“I said: ‘Listen, not one person is going to see a movie where the lead character dies from Aids and then you see how the band carries on.’

“There are amazing stories about Freddie Mercury. The guy was wild. There are stories of little people walking around parties with plates of cocaine on their heads!”

Queen guitarist Bryan May later lambasted Cohen, telling the Mail on Sunday: “Sacha became an arse. We had some nice times with Sacha kicking around ideas, but he went off and told untruths about what happened.”

The movie was eventually made in 2018, with Mr. Robot star Malek as Mercury, with Bryan Singer directing.

Despite middling reviews, Malek won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance.

Watch: Sacha Baron Cohen calls out Rudi Giuliani